VETERAN pop star Toyah Wilcox is joining an eclectic line-up for Stratford Music Festival next month.
The musician, actress and TV presenter is joining the star-studded bill alongside internationally renowned classical pianist Peter Donohoe, celebrated Australian guitarist Craig Ogden and the Orchestra of the Swan – featuring Britain’s leading oboist Nicholas Daniel.
Stratford Music Festical, now in its 26th year, takes place over nine days in November at a range of town venues from Stratford Play House and the Levi Fox Theatre to Holy Trinity Church and the Guild Chapel.
And this year kicks off with a very special curtain-raiser on October 22, as Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra has been persuaded for the first time in many years to join the festival.
They promise a packed-programme of pieces from Dvorak and Sibelius, together with Tchaikovsky’s exceptionally challenging Violin Concerto in D Major, played by Callum Smart.
The festival proper kicks off on Saturday November 12 with the first of two concerts celebrating the works of Vaughan Williams in his 150th anniversary year, performed by the Stratford Chamber Choir.
Stratford Symphony Orchestra and Festival Chorus will then perform Faure’s Requiem – the centrepiece of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s recent funeral – with a unique opportunity to hear Coventry’s Cathedral’s senior chorister as boy soloist.
The festival continues with two concerts by talented students from King Edward VI School, and a Mendelssohn cantata and Haydn mass performed by the Stratford Choral Society with the Regency Sinfonia.
Other highlights of the festival calendar include an intimate evening of music from guitarist Craig Ogden, and an eclectic programme of pieces by Chopin, Rachmaninov, Busoni, Albeniz and Granados performed by pianist Peter Donohoe.
Stratford-based Orchestra of the Swan will feature in two concerts – first performing a repertoire of music by Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten, then closing the festival with two performances of Into the Woods – Roald Dahl’s wicked retelling of Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs, narrated by Toyah Willcox.
And as in previous years, Escape Arts, Stratford’s community arts and heritage outreach charity, will be contributing distinctive artwork to the two closing concerts, produced by local schools at a series of workshops run by the charity in the run-up to the festival.
Joint Chairman Ray Coyte said: “With the challenges of the pandemic finally behind us, this looks like being our most successful and varied festival ever. We’re thrilled to be hosting some of the county’s most talented amateur musicians alongside internationally renowned performers at the top of their game. It really will be a magical feast for all music-lovers and we can’t wait to get started.”
The Stratford Music Festival runs from November 12 to November 20. Tickets are on sale now at www.stratfordmusicfestival.com